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Microsoft, Sony drop cash on Intellectual Ventures -- report

Dubbed a "patent troll" by some, Intellectual Ventures has built up a massive war chest of patents with help from big tech firms. Apple and Intel apparently did not join this funding round, though, according to Reuters.

Intellectual Ventures HQ in Bellevue, Wash. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Intellectual Ventures, the massive patent-holding firm that has been called by some a "patent troll," has secured new funding from Microsoft and Sony, a new report claims.

Both Sony and Microsoft have invested an undisclosed sum in Intellectual Ventures, allowing the firm to set out to acquire more intellectual property, Reuters reported Friday, citing people with knowledge of the deal. Apple and Intel, two companies that have previously invested in Intellectual Ventures, declined to participate in this latest funding round, though their reasons are not clear.

Intellectual Ventures is the subject of much debate in the technology industry. The Bellevue, Wash.-based company has built up a massive trove of patents and has taken aim at a slew of firms that it claims infringe on its patents. It has targeted companies across a wide range of industries, including Motorola and Symantec in tech, as well as Capital One, Bank of America, and other banks. Critics say that its tactics make it a "patent troll" that wants nothing more than to profit off the innovations of others.

For its part, Intellectual Ventures which owns about 70,000 patents, says that it's simply preserving the intellectual property it owns, as is required by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The company generates its revenue on licensing those patents and doesn't actually make any new products itself.

Although there are many firms like Intellectual Ventures, few have the backing of such major technology companies. According to Reuters' sources and the court documents the news service obtained, Apple and Intel previously invested significant sums of cash that were used by Intellectual Ventures to acquire more patents. The reported cash infusion from Sony and Microsoft will provide the same.

CNET has contacted the companies for comment on the Reuters report. We will update this story when we have more information.